Railroad News

Crossing Causes Consternation, Conflict between Railroad and Businessman

(Hudson, Ohio—August 8, 2012)

A private crossing at a road extending a half mile from Ravenna Street to the residence of business owner Louis Estergall, his wife, two sons, daughter and grandson, and the Norfolk Southern Railway, has become a bone of contention between the two parties, leading to confrontations as the property owner, whose 37-acre property is bisected by the NS double-tracked main line.

Estergall says he has a deed land restriction, dating back to the 1800’s that restricts the railroad from blocking his crossing with standing trains. With 62 trains crossing his driveway daily at a top allowable speed of 50 mph, it would be difficult to perceive the possibility of stationary trains blocking the crossing. Yet, regardless of the frequency of passage, NS trains have been known to block access to Estergall’s enterprises.

Louis operates both Hudson Overhead Doors and Hudson Concrete from his rail-locked property, and neither business is one that can stand long delays in servicing its customers. But “once in a while, we get trapped for a few hours by a stopped train,” says Estergall.

Several weeks ago, Estergall had to call Hudson Police after a train stopped and blocked access to his home and business for several hours. And he becomes frustrated when a train stops just two or three cars short of clearing his driveway and will neither move a few extra car lengths nor break the string of cars apart to allow him, his family and his customers, access.

On July 17, urgency became so high that Mrs. Estergall called Norfolk Southern to say that unless a train that had been blocking their crossing moved, her husband and daughter were prepared to crawl underneath the stopped rail cars. But instead of moving the train, the railroad called the Hudson Police Dept. to halt the Estergalls’ desperate plan.

As fate would have it, as Estergall explained the agreement against crossing blockage to the police officer, the train moved off of the crossing.

But regardless of conflict, Louis remains positive, telling Hudson Hub Times Reporter Dorothy Markulis that, for the most part, both law enforcement and railroad have been understanding about the situation.

“I credit the good Lord for helping me keep appointments,” philosophizes Estergall. “Sometimes I pray for trouble, just so I can see the miracles!”